BSHAA chief executive Prof David Welbourn said: “A growing body of evidence shows that hearing well is strongly linked to quality of life in our increasingly ageing population. We welcome the guidance, which will bring us ever closer to a clear understanding that hearing must no longer be consigned to the margins of care. We’re pleased that the final guidance has addressed the majority of our concerns about recognising those in private practice who are regulated and authorised to practice autonomously. We will continue to work with others in the sector to improve the clarity and consistency of information available to the seven million people in the UK who should be seeking professional help with their hearing.
“Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and it is now vital that it follows NICE’s example and raises the profile of hearing in their campaigning for better quality, healthier lives for all.
“Hearing is a major public health issue and must be treated as such.”
A 25-year study published earlier this year by Professor Helene Amieva found an increased risk of disability and dementia in those with untreated hearing loss, and an increased risk of depression in men. This followed a study in The Lancet last year that provided unmistakable evidence that mid-life hearing loss tops nine risk factors that contribute to the risk of dementia. Ground-breaking research in 2017 from the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre also demonstrated the life-changing, health-improving impact of hearing aids.
Prof Welbourn added: “Hearing is much more than sound. It is about inclusion, engagement and belonging; about a connection to the world. Remove that connection, and a whole host of health and social problems occur. The evidence for hearing’s vital role in the nation’s health and well-being is stacking up. We welcome the guidance from NICE as a hugely important step in moving hearing care into a much more prominent position. Public Health England must now play its part in further raising the profile of hearing as a major public health issue.”